Hey all you dungeon dwellers out there, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review another movie for one of my 2021 challenges. This time I watched a movie with a dragon in it for my read-watch-play challenge. If you don’t know what that challenge is or you want to play along you can find all the details here. I decided to go with one of the most famous dragons of all time, Smaug who appears in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
If you have read this blog much at all you will know that it is no secret I enjoy fantasy. My favorite fantasy author of all time is J.R.R. Tolkien. I love the writing and the world he builds. Every time I read something of his I feel immersed in it and I am wrapped up in the story whether it is humorous, adventurous, whimsical or dramatic. To me it’s the kind of work that I would always want to see on film, after I have read the story.
I have to preface my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by saying I don’t hate this movie. My review might sound that way but it’s more accurate to say I hate parts of this movie. There are some wonderful things here that are hard not to like. Matin Freeman makes the perfect Bilbo with just enough attitude to make the character work. In my mind no actor will ever replace Ian McKellen as Gandalf and it brings my heart joy to see him reprise his role for this series. And the look of the film is gorgeous and it’s easy to believe the characters are standing in Middle Earth.
I like the opening although I have mixed feelings about having Frodo appear at all in this but the way that Peter Jackson connects the films is more or less fine.
I love the “Good morning” conversation between Gandalf and Bilbo and it plays out almost exactly like the book. I like the way the dwarves come to Bilbo’s door that plays out almost just like the book. I like the riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum that plays out almost just like the book.
However, there is a lot in this movie to dislike. There are random character threads that were thrown in for no reason, there is a goblin antagonist that just feels tacked on, there are times when the film takes itself far too seriously and no one who made the film seemed to realize that since The Hobbit is 1. a single book and 2. much shorter than the Lord of the Rings books we did not need to stretch this out into three films.
I think I can sum up my main objection to this movie in a single word. Whimsy. If you read the book, it is chock full of whimsy. There’s a bit of adventure in there and a good dose of humor but whimsical is what the book is. That’s something that is nearly impossible to film. It’s hard enough to capture comedy at all but whimsy is elusive anywhere other than in a book. And in a book it’s still pretty hard to find. There simply is not enough whimsy in this film. There are moments of it, like when the dwarves are tossing dishes around in Bilbo’s house, although to be honest, even that feels a bit forced. The best example is Gandalf asking Bilbo, “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?” The exchange establishes that Gandalf does not play by the common set of societal rules. The fact that Bilbo sort of goes along with it shows he has the potential to change but hasn’t done so yet. Then in the book he goes on this magical journey with colorful characters and it’s simply a great time all around. We didn’t need a tragic backstory overemphasized with dramatic music and helicopter shots to convey the feeling of the book. In fact that fights against the feeling of the book.
The film is still watchable, I just have to set aside the fact that it strays from the book so much. I understand that some people think that might be biased because movies can be better than books. In this case, I am not of the opinion the film is superior to the source material. I just don’t understand some of the choices that were made in the filming and it feels kind of like a manipulative money grab for anyone who was a fan of the Lord of the Rings films. I would have much preferred a shorter, more whimsical film that wasn’t trying to pull in an already established audience. I hope that at some point the perfect film adaptation of thee book is made but until then this is the closest we can get. You do have to slog through two more movies to get the whole story but again, it’s the best adaptation available.
If you decide to watch this movie or re-watch it if you have already seen it let me make one small suggestion. After you do so, go read the book and get swept up in the beloved children’s classic that will have a place in my heart forever.
Hey out there all you dungeon crawlers, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review the start of a horror franchise that I never watched before. This time I am reviewing Saw.
Saw is one of those horror movies that is legendary for being talked about as being highly disturbing. It’s got a bunch of sequels and has made a boat load of money so it clearly caught on with a particular audience. It’s also known for having a ton of gore in it and creative death traps that ensnare victims who have to make terrible choices in order to survive.
This is one of those series that I meant to get around to as a horror fan but just haven’t found the time. I watched the first installment and there is plenty to like but there are also some flaws here. I am going to give mild spoilers for the movie so be forewarned.
The movie starts with a pair of men in a grungy bathroom chained to pipes on the wall. They’re obviously in a dire situation and their lives are threatened. The film develops mostly through these two characters talking to each other about who they are and how they think they go there. They also try to work together on occasion to try to escape. The whole time this is going on, they find little clues that might give them an idea of who kidnapped them but it’s vague enough to keep them off balance. And the audience is welcome to speculate the whole time on who might really be behind the action, including the men chained in the room.
The whole movie plays out like an escape room scenario where if the characters can “win” the game, they may get to live. It’s a pretty sick and twisted idea and it works well as far as horror goes.
I think the thing that surprised me the most, however, was the casting. I had no idea that Cary Elwes, Danny Glover and Michael Emerson were in this. I thought it was so low budget that it didn’t have any star power at all.
Everyone here puts in a decent enough performance but there are some plot holes. The one that really gets me is that one of the characters starts underwater in a bathtub. It’s a cool and horrifying start to the film but on a practical level, how did the kidnapper know that character wouldn’t just drown and then there would be no movie?
There are a few other plot holes that I spotted but I don’t want to go into them because I will say that the end surprised me. I did not expect it and although it was surprising, I’m not sure that it made for a better movie. I respect what the filmmakers were going for but there are some logic problems with it.
While the premise is inventive, and there is plenty of gore in it, I feel like some of this could be executed (pun intended) better as far as filmmaking goes. I liked it enough that I will continue watching the series because I am curious what they come up with for the franchise but this series is not going to replace any of my top five horror franchises unless they really step up the game in the sequels.
One thing I will commend the filmmaker with though–that puppet is really creepy and they used it well!
If you have watched this, what did you think? Was it clever or contrived? Let me know in the comments.
Hey everyone out there in internet land, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I watched a movie on Netflix called Vampires vs. the Bronx and I’m here to tell you all about it.
Most vampire movies are pretty standard fare, you have blood sucking immortal enemies, some group of heroes and the two groups face off in a bloody battle for the world. That’s basically the plot of Vampires vs. the Bronx so I can’t say it is touching much new ground here. However, this film has something in spades that I have missed in vampire movies lately. What is it? A sense of fun.
The film follows a group of boys who live in the Bronx and are concerned with the fact that their neighborhood is being sold off bit by bit to a wealthy real estate development company. In addition to that, there are people that have gone missing lately. Some of those people seem to have sold off their property or business and it would make sense that they left but others are simply missing persons cases.
One boy, Miguel is particularly concerned that one of the businesses he basically grew up in is in danger of being sold. He goes around the neighborhood trying to raise funds to save Tony’s Bodega. He has a pair of friends who help out, although they are a bit more interested in just hanging out than saving the neighborhood.
Since this is a film about vampires, I think you can guess the real reason these people have gone missing and businesses have been closing. Miguel is the first in the neighborhood to clue into what is going on. And like any good horror film, they main character is not believed by anyone else until they see definite proof of the vampires themselves.
I don’t want to get too much more into the plot here but this is basically The Lost Boys set in the Bronx. The location is a refreshing change for a vampire movie and although there are plot holes you could drive a semi-truck through, it doesn’t really matter because it’s just an enjoyable watch. It’s not scary and it’s not particularly original but it still works.
If you have been looking for a vampire film that can be a fun and enjoyable watch, have a look at Vampires vs. the Bronx.
If you’re like me, you think it is vital to support independent films. If you’re like me, you’re a fan of the horror genre. Yet, there are so many films out there it can be hard to find a good one. Also, who has time to watch a whole bunch of feature-length horror when there are other responsibilities we have to live up to? I’ve got good news for anyone who fits into these categories.
I read about a horror film channel on YouTube called Alter that hosts short horror films you can watch each week for free. I first read about this on the blog Everlasting Hauntings, a great horror blog that you should check out.
Alter features three different short horror films each week so it’s likely you will find something worth watching, no matter what type of horror you prefer. The production values tend to be high quality and the acting is generally good as well. To give you a good example of two short films I think are worth watching, check out the videos below. If you like them, you should subscribe to the YouTube channel asap.
Backstroke is about a runaway who ends up in a precarious position after stealing a car.
The Guest House is about a bored couple who get more than they bargained for while playing a game.
If you want to support short, independent, horror films subscribe to the channel.
Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. 2020 was a challenge to say the least and not in a fun way. This year I thought that I would face the challenge of the new year in a way that improves upon last year. Instead of the challenge of just muddling through life, let’s have a book, movie, and tabletop RPG challenge!
(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
I haven’t done a post like this before so please let me know what you think and also, feel free to play along all year. Each list has 12 challenges so one per month should be doable but if you are an overachiever, feel free to knock these out in 12 days or less. If you do take up the challenge let me know how it went. And if you happen to post it onto your blog, let me know, so that I can link to your challenge on my blog.
Below are the rules as far as I am going to follow them. You don’t have to follow the same way I do but these are the rules I set for myself.
How Does This Work? The Rules
- There are three separate challenges, one for books, one for movies and one for books, movies and RPGs lumped together. I will tell you a little more about each one and give some potential suggestions for what I think I will do to complete the checkboxes.
- Once I finish a challenge I plan to check it off and then post about it on my blog. If you just want to do this for fun and not post on your blog, that is totally cool. If you do post on your blog, let’s compare notes!
- These can be done in any order. Feel free to skip to the bottom, go to the middle or meticulously hit each one as they are listed.
- I am not in the camp of double dipping so I will not be doing that. If you want to, you won’t get any judgement from me.
- If you complete any one of my challenges and post about it on your blog, I will let you choose any one thing in that list’s category for me to review (within reason). For example if you complete my movie challenge and you want me to review The Emoji Movie, I will do it. If you complete my book challenge and want me to read and review a book that you published, I will do it. If you complete my Read-Watch-Play challenge and you want me to play an RPG that you think is really cool, I will play and then review it. Side note: I won’t review anything that I think is too extreme and I have ultimate veto power over what I post on my blog but otherwise, you can tell me what to review.
- This is not a rule but these are all downloadable PDF’s so feel free to download and print them or pass them on to friends, relatives, neighbors or office mates looking for something to do!
Challenge 1: Book Challenge
The book challenge should be pretty straightforward. Pick one of the challenges and find a book that matches. Or if you are reading a book and realize that it fits in one of these categories, check it off once you have finished the book!
Some examples of what I plan to do are as follows. The book at the very bottom of my TBR list right now is The Ten Cent Plague, a non-fiction book about the comic book industry that I have been meaning to read forever. Maybe this challenge will finally get me through that one. For a graphic novel that is not about superheroes I plan to read Berlin which I have been told is an excellent book about the fall of the Weimar Republic.
Challenge 2: Movie Challenge
This one should also be pretty straightforward. Watch a movie that matches the category and check off the box once you have finished watching. I watch a lot of movies so for this one I might just watch first and then see if it fits the category after, although I do have some ideas for some of these. For three movies by the same director I am thinking I might take a look at Quentin Tarantino’s movies since it has been a while since I watched some of those. For a movie with an ambiguous ending I am thinking of Inception although I think there are definitely a lot more movies besides that one that have that kind of end. It’s just the first one that popped into my head.
Challenge 3: Read-Watch-Play Challenge
Out of all my challenges, this is the one that I will most likely do in order. It’s pretty easy to find books and movies to fit these categories but I realize that not everyone is familiar with good Tabletop RPG choices so I am going to tell you the ones I plan on doing and even provide you with helpful links if you need a suggestion. (These are affiliate links and if you do buy anything there it helps this blog out immensely at no extra cost to you. No pressure though, never buy anything from a website that you don’t want)
For my D&D 1 shot adventure, I plan to play Second Glance. It’s the follow-up adventure to First Blush, a one-shot that I enjoyed and reviewed on this blog. They are both duet campaigns, meaning you only need two people to play, so great for learning how to play the game. Also, they only cost $2, so it’s a great bargain to get you started.
For a Tabletop RPG I have never played before I have three that I am thinking about. I may end up playing them all but we’ll see. If you have played any of these, let me know what you think. The first one I am considering is Cyberpunk Red. While the video game release was a mess, I’ve always thought Cyberpunk made more sense as a tabletop game anyway. The second I am considering is Wicked Ones. This is sort of a reverse D&D where you play the monsters and try to keep those pesky adventurers from taking all your stuff and wrecking your dungeon. The third one I am considering is Altered Carbon, the TTRPG based on the popular book and Netflix series.
For a Tabletop RPG that takes place in space I plan to play Stars Without Number: Revised Edition. It’s a game about humans returning to the skies after their empire has fallen. I feel like it has a lot of sandbox potential and I’m really looking forward to it. The game has gotten great reviews and it should be interesting.
For a Tabletop RPG starring animals I plan to play Pugmire. It’s like D&D but with all pugs! The world of man is over but Pugs have evolved to take over. How great is that? If you like cats better try playing Adventures for Curious Cats set in the same setting.
I hope you enjoy the challenges I have come up with. Don’t forget to let me know if you plan to play along and how it goes if you do.
Hey everyone, how’s it going out there? It’s me, Slick Dungeon back to give you a review of a genuinely creepy movie on Netflix called His House.
The film stars the phenomenal Wunmi Mosaku who showed off her horror skills recently in Lovecraft Country. Alongside her is Sope Dirisu. The pair play a couple of refugees who are trying to make a new home in London. Helping them is a social worker played by Matt Smith, best known as the 11th doctor from Doctor Who.
Star power aside, His House has something going for it that almost no other haunted house movie has. What is it? A legitimate reason to stay. Most haunted house movies seem to be about a family that buys a new house to find it is haunted. Or to be about people who just have to stay one night to win an inheritance at a haunted house. Or about people who drive out to some remote location for fun and end up in a haunted house. What do all of those types of movies have in common? If people really wanted to, they could just leave. The characters in His House are refugees and if they move for any reason, they lose their refugee status and will be sent back to war torn home they fled. Ghosts and ghouls can hardly be bad enough to make anyone want to do that.
The movie starts out with a few glimpses of the tragedy and loss that the couple experience. Soon they find themselves in a house in London that is much more spacious than they expected, albeit, the home is not in a nice neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination.
Soon strange things start happening in the house and many of the things you would expect in haunted house movies happen. There are weird noises, unexpected visions, and nightmares. What’s really interesting though, is that sometimes it’s hard to tell what is caused by the house or whatever is haunting them and what might just be traumatic memories playing out as they would for anyone who had experienced such real life horrors.
There are major surprises in the film that I won’t give away here but I will just suffice to say that even the reason for the haunting makes sense. This gives the whole film more legitimacy in its scares and if this film doesn’t leave you at least a little bit unsettled, I don’t think anything will.
If you haven’t checked out His House yet, make sure you take some time to take it in. It’s gripping and horrific in the best way possible.
Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here on this night before Halloween and I thought I would review an independent slasher film for you all. I watched Camp Twilight from DarkCoast pictures.
There have been tons of homages to the greatest of the great slasher films. You’ll notice that most of them take place at somewhere like a summer camp, just like Friday the 13th movies do. Why? Low budget locations!
Some of these films hold up as sort of fun romps that can be an enjoyable couple of hours. Others are just terrible films not worth the time of day. While Camp Twilight is certainly not the worst slasher film I have seen, It is nowhere near a good movie. I am going to give spoilers below so if you want to watch this first, feel free to do that and come back to read the review.
The premise is fine for this one. It’s a group of high school students who are essentially forced to go to a camp for a tech free weekend if they want to graduate. A couple of teachers will be there and there are going to be all of the expected summer activities, hiking, kayaking, etc. You can probably guess what happens as soon as it gets dark. Yep, these teenagers go missing as they are picked off one by one. There is some mystery to who is doing the killing and there is, for my taste, just far too much comic relief in the form of the local park rangers.
I will say that when you are trying to make a slasher film, it’s hard to be surprising because it has been done so many times. But by the end of this one, I felt like the supposed plot twists and surprises that were in the film were just there to fill time. A lot of it didn’t make much sense and was honestly a little frustrating.
I love independent movies and I love slasher films that are creative and surprising. Unfortunately this one misses the mark by a pretty wide margin.
The kills are nothing you haven’t seen before if you are a horror fan and although I don’t really have a problem with the acting, the whole thing didn’t seem like it was thought out well enough.
I’m hoping that DarkCoast still keeps making movies because they are bound to come up with a gem in the horror genre eventually but unless you have nothing else to watch and need a new slasher to see, I would stay away from Camp Twilight.
If you do want to watch the movie it will be available for VOD on InDemand, DirecTV, FlixFling, Vudu & Fandango on 11/1
An Independent Thriller Film With the Right Formula
Happy October everyone! Slick Dungeon here and I thought I would kick off this month with a review of an independent film from DarkCoast.
This is a crime thriller about a married couple who have to defend themselves against a home invasion. The film was written by Walker Whited and Sean McCane, with Whited also performing directing duties. It stars Michelle Rose as an ex-Army Sergeant named Heather and Kurt Yue as an average husband with a troubled history named Mark. There is also a nice turn as bad guy Moody played by Michael Aaron Milligan.
There will be some mild spoilers below but you should still be able to enjoy the film if you read on because I will not give away too much. You have been warned.
A couple facing financial hardships and a tragic past are surprised when an intruder breaks into their home. Mark and Heather are not sure what to do when the intruder offers them a large sum of money if they let him go. Acting in self defense, Heather kills the intruder. The natural impulse would be to call the police but Mark realizes that there must be something valuable in their house. The couple agree to spend an hour looking for it before contacting the authorities. This kicks off a night full of intense surprises, an emotional roller coaster, and a ton of action.
The film is overall very satisfying and while it uses the basic formula of Die Hard it does so with enough twists and flourishes that it works. And let’s be honest, that formula works for a reason and is still entertaining to watch. Michelle Rose and Kurt Yue both put in phenomenal performances here and I found them both extremely engaging in their respective parts. Michael Aaron Milligan has a tendency to take his villain role a little too far at times but it’s still a great menacing performance.
The action is rather intense and for once, I mostly did not find myself wondering why in the world the characters would make those choices. Heather is smart and a woman of action. Mark is no soldier but he does things that would make sense given the situation. The bad guys do a few things that might be questionable but then again if the bad guys never made a mistake, the heroes would have no chance right?
The climax of the film is utterly intense and by the time we get there, it feels like Heather and Mark are in real danger and it’s definitely not certain that either will survive. They are a likeable couple with their own flaws and are easily relatable to the audience. These are three dimensional characters which is nice to see in an action film that essentially takes place in a single evening and at a single location.
For a low budget, independent film, this one hits all the right marks and makes for an exciting viewing experience. There are a lot of action films and thrillers you could watch but sometimes it’s nice to see something that was truly independent and this qualifies. Instead of re-watching Die Hard for the millionth time, give this one a try. It’s well worth your time and I definitely recommend it.
By Night’s End will be available on October 6th on the following digital platforms — Amazon, iTunes, DirecTV, FlixFling, Google Play, Vudu and AT&T.
Do yourself a favor and make that a movie night and give this one a try.
Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to review the number one movie on Netflix right now. That’s right, I am here to give you my hot take on Devil All the Time.
The film stars Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson as a couple of southerners who end up at odds with each other. To be honest, that’s a really poor description of the film but those two are the most billable, bankable stars in the movie. I won’t give away any major spoilers here so feel free to read this review even before you watch the film.
The movie is really several story lines that intersect, kind of like Pulp Fiction did but it’s much less disjointed than that movie was. There is a lot of suspense and violence in the film. It’s not for the faint of heart but it’s by no means even close to the bloodiest thing you could watch on Netflix.
The pacing of the film is intentionally slow and deliberate but it is not harmed for that. The acting is stellar and there is a scene with Holland and Pattinson that takes place in a church that is downright electric. The whole movie is worth watching just for that one scene.
While it maybe could have used a few less characters overall, the story is rather interesting and all of the loose ends are tied in a bow, with one notable exception.
If you really like suspense or thriller films, especially the kind that have a slow build up to a majorly interconnected story, this movie is for you. Or if you just like a good drama and need a break from Marvel films but still want to watch Tom Holland, this is worth a watch.
What’s up everyone? Slick Dungeon here back to review the Netflix horror flick We Summon the Darkness. I promise not to give too much away but if you continue reading from here on out there could be mild spoilers. You have been warned.
If you were alive in the 1980’s and knew about the hair metal bands of the time, this movie will bring you right back to that period. The opening has all the iconic things from the 80’s you remember. Leather jackets, teased hair, the old Twinkie boxes and even Jolt cola. The movie follows three women who go to a heavy metal concert. While there they see signs that things are not exactly great in the area. Apparently there has been a slue of murders attributed to a satanic cult. When the women get to the concert they meet three men out for one last night of fun before they say goodbye to one of their group for good. The two groups start to hang out and the evening suddenly becomes very deadly.
This movie is described as horror and while there certainly are horror elements to it, I would classify this as more of a thriller than anything. The plot is very grounded in reality and although we have seen this sort of thing before this movie does have a fresh take on it.
The movie makes great use of limited locations and most of the night takes place in a single house. In some ways this reminded me of The Purge but I think the movie I would say this is closest to mirroring is the excellent Kevin Smith film Red State.
If you like the 80’s, if you are a fan of horror or thriller films, and if you enjoy seeing some of those conventions upended, this movie is for you.
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